Australia should be climate change leader at G8

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 23 May 2008

Oxfam has welcomed today’s announcement that Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will be attending the G8 environment ministers meeting in Kobe, Japan, tomorrow and Sunday.
The agency is encouraging Senator Wong to live up to the Federal Government’s commitment to take the lead in international action on climate change.
Announcing the appointment of a Climate Change Special Envoy and a Climate Change Ambassador just yesterday, Senator Wong said: “The Rudd Government recognises Australia has a responsibility, as a developed country, to take the lead in international action and discussions.”
Oxfam wants Senator Wong to demonstrate that leadership at the G8 environment ministers meeting by pushing for an ambitious climate agenda for July’s G8 discussions, and showing the world that the wheels set in motion at December’s Bali conference are not grinding to a halt.
A year ago in Germany, members agreed to ‘consider seriously the decisions made by the European Union, Canada and Japan, which include at least a halving of emissions by 2050’. Oxfam is concerned that Japan’s climate agenda for this year’s G8 Summit is even weaker than commitments made in Germany and stops short of delivering much-needed political momentum to tackle climate change.
“The endless debate about ‘considering’ reducing emissions is long gone. We need carbon cuts and we need this to happen now. Anything less would be a clear step backward in the fight to combat global warming,” said Oxfam Australia’s Director of Public Policy, James Ensor.
Oxfam is particularly concerned that the discussions around 50 per cent cuts are off-the-mark and a distraction from what the G8 needs to be doing now: turning consideration into commitment, and arguments into action. The long-term target of a 50 per cent cut is not enough to keep temperature rises below 2°C and prevent life-threatening consequences for the world’s poorest people.
Oxfam welcomes the focus on adaptation emerging from the G8 talks, but calls on G8 countries to channel new resources through the UN Adaptation Fund.
Mr Ensor said last week’s $2.3 billion climate change package in the Federal Budget was a good start and included $150 million over three years to support developing countries to adapt to the rapidly escalating impacts of climate change.
“However, this level of investment will increasingly be dwarfed by the scale of need, as the effects of climate change accelerate and impact the lives of poor men and women in developing countries around the world,” Mr Ensor said.
Oxfam Australia estimated that $300 million was needed in the current Budget for adaptation, building to $1.75 billion over the next five years. Adaptation spending should be prioritised in the areas of capacity building, disaster preparedness, livelihoods programming and migration.
As a leading agency working with communities around the world to end poverty and social injustice, Oxfam is already seeing the impacts of climate change on poor and vulnerable people in the developing world, including in the Pacific.
To interview Oxfam Australia’s Director of Public Policy and Outreach James Ensor, please contact Laurelle Keough, Oxfam Australia Media Liaison Coordinator – Advocacy & Campaigns, on 0409 960 100